Monday, May 21, 2012

Movie of the Week – Paths of Glory

This Week’s Movie is Paths of Glory (1957).

The WWI film is about a company French soldiers who refuse to continue an impossible attack on a Prussian stronghold. Their superiors contend to make an example of them by executing a member of each of three platoons. The company commander, Col. Dax, seeing the injustice of this punishment, decides to defend them at their court martial. It is the second great film from writer-director Stanley Kubrick, who worked with composer Gerald Fried (for the second time in a row – he also scored The Killing), and German cinematographer George Krause and art director Ludwig Reiber. It stars Kirk Douglas (who also produced the film, and this is the first of his two collaborations with Kubrick – the second being Spartacus). It is probably his greatest performance of his career (and certainly the best film). Paths of Glory plays as one of the great anti-war films, attacking the sheer absurdity of soldiers being ordered to their deaths for no reason. It casts the soldiers on the front as a scattered array of everyday Joes, while those in high command sit comfortably in luxury, frivolously disregarding them (alive or dead). It is a striking blow to the idea of patriotism, and yet it also promotes the perseverance of the human spirit – the ability to ‘soldier on’. It is one of the most affecting and powerful films and a must-see for fans of human dramas. Check out the trailer.

Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Streaming

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